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Gambling Laws in Argentina

guide to Argentina gambling laws

Whether you’re in the mood to play casino games in person or online, buy a lottery ticket, catch a horse race, or bet on football – you’re in luck. Argentina’s gambling laws provide for everything.

Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world, with the second-largest economy in South America. That economy is bolstered with nearly $15 billion in gambling revenue, and the number continues to rise.

While casinos, lottery, and pari-mutuel have been around for decades, online gambling is becoming a homegrown industry.

Online gambling laws for Argentina have been loose since 2008, when a proposed government ban on offshore providers failed. Instead of calling it a day, Argentina, instead, turned its attention to licensing and regulation to keep some of the cash from flooding out of the area.

Nothing’s out of the realm of possibility when it comes to gambling and online gambling laws in Argentina. But, we’re still about to fill you in on the specifics. That includes where legal betting in Argentina has been and where it’s heading in 2021 and beyond.

Overview of Argentina Gambling Laws

If we had to describe the situation with Argentina’s gambling laws in a single sentence, it would be – Argentina allows for every betting opportunity, both land-based and online.

Gambling legislation in Argentina is loose, but not all forms of betting and gaming are officially licensed and regulated.

There was a national lottery that was once the only federally legislated program. It started in 1893, but the 21st century witnessed the end of an era as the National Lottery held its last draw in February of 2018.

Argentina Gambling Laws By Province

Now, without the national lottery, everything is in the hands of the 23 provinces plus the city of Buenos Aires, which has different governing powers.

That means provincial lotteries, casinos, bingo, pari-mutuel, sports betting, and Argentina’s online gambling laws and provisions are all dealt with by local government.

Provinces can decide which activities are regulated, and that means tighter controls on land-based operations as they’re easy to spot. But when it comes to online gambling, it’s not quite that simple.

However, when you can’t beat ‘em, you join ‘em, and that’s the philosophy many locations are taking.

The following is a breakdown of where each of the 23 provincial jurisdictions and autonomous Buenos Aires stands with online gambling.

Online Gambling in Argentina
Province Status
Buenos Aires In-province approved, but not active
Catamarca In the discussion stage
Chabut In the discussion stage
Chaco Approved, regulated, and active
City of Buenos Aires City-approved but not active – coming in 2021
Cordoba In the discussion stage
Corrientes In the discussion stage
Entre Rios Approved, regulated, and active
Formosa In-province approved, but not active
Jujuy In the discussion stage
La Pampa Approved, regulated, and active
La Rioja In the discussion stage
Mendoza In the process of regulation
Misiones Approved, regulated, and active
Neuquen Approved, regulated, and active
Rio Negro Approved, regulated, and active
Salta In the discussion stage
San Juan In the discussion stage
San Luis Approved, regulated, and active
Santa Cruz Approved, regulated, and active
Santa Fe In-province approved, but not active
Santiago del Estero In the discussion stage
Tierra del Fuego In the discussion stage
Tucuman Approved, regulated, and active

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Legal Online Gambling in Buenos Aires

online gambling in Buenos Airies

The City of Buenos Aires is moving full speed ahead with a newly approved online gambling program.

City legislation received the go-ahead in early 2020 with some modifications later in the year. The original plan left out land-based casinos, but the revised version has opened the virtual door to Casino de Puerto Madero and Hipodromo de Palermo.

If either is interested in securing online gambling licensing, they’re now on the list.

Buenos Aires estimates anywhere from $6 to $9 million in annual revenue based on the new Argentina online gaming laws.

Evolution of Argentina Gambling Laws

If you compare Argentina to nearby Brazil, you’ll note a stark contrast in the history of gambling and current legislation. Brazil has been ultra-conservative, flip-flopping back and forth with yes gambling, no gambling for more than a century.

On the other hand, Argentina has taken a more hands-off approach, allowing the chips to fall where they may. There have been some milestones along the way. But, for the most part, Argentina’s gambling laws evolved naturally.

1880 The Turf betting game was the popular form of gambling in Argentina
1882 Establishment of the Buenos Aires Jockey Club
1893 Lottery of Beneficence introduced (aka the National Lottery)
1902 Strict ban on illegal gambling
1944 The National Lottery (Loteria Nacional Sociedad del Estado) expanded and took on oversight of Argentina’s racetracks
1971 Sports predictions approved
1980 The Jockey Club of Buenos Aires assumed responsibility for horse racing from the National Lottery
1990 Land-based betting shops like Ladbrokes started to pop up – nothing formally legislated
1999 Supreme Court made a formal decree that gambling decisions and regulation would be in the hands of the provinces
2002 The government started providing licenses for online poker operators
2006 BetVictor was the first licensed operator to provide online betting services in Argentina
2008 The Argentinian government attempted an unsuccessful ban on online gambling
2018 The National Lottery was dissolved
2021 Even though there aren’t official online gambling programs across the country yet, the government raises taxes for online gambling from 2% to 5%

Casinos in Every Argentinian Province

Close to 200 casinos are spread throughout Argentina, providing 25,000 slot machines and 1,000 table games.

The Hipodromo Argentino de Palermo has 4,000+ slots, which is more than any other gambling venue in Argentina. However, it’s a racino and doesn’t carry the wide range of betting opportunities you’ll find with the official “casino” designation.

Trilenium Casino in Argentina

For the largest casinos with table games and poker, as well as slots, you’d head to the Trilenium.

It’s located in the city of Tigre and boasts 1,700 slots and 74 table games.

  • Trilenium Casino
  • Perú 1385, B1648 Tigre, Provincia de Buenos Aires
  • Phone: +54 11 4731-7001

Like all of the other gambling pursuits, Argentina’s gambling laws regarding casinos are pretty much nonexistent.

There’s no federal program declaring casino gaming legal or illegal. We’ll sound like a broken record, but it’s up to the provinces to decide who can and can’t stay in their jurisdictions.

Gambling Venues With a History

Casinos have been around for more than 100 years, though, and regional governments aren’t going to buck tradition.

Casino Central in Argentina

Take the Casino Central, for example. It’s located about five hours from the city of Buenos Aires in Mar del Plata.

It opened in 1939 and is still an operational casino that can accommodate up to 18,000 players, as well as a historical landmark.

  • Casino Central
  • Maritimo Patricio Peralta Ramos 2148, Mar del Plata, Buenos Aires
  • Phone: +54 223 495 7011

Some of the land-based casinos are part of the Argentina online gambling law discussions of late.

Instead of losing income to outside providers, land-based owners are expressing interest in launching virtual services, especially since the pandemic of 2020 meant forced closures.

An Exception to Argentina Gambling Laws

While casinos are divvied up across provinces, the nation’s capital, Buenos Aires, is the exception to the rule.

Casinos and bingo halls aren’t approved in Buenos Aires. While there is a casino and racino, their homes are on the water and the racetrack.

The Casino Buenos Aires takes up three decks on the Estrella de la Fortuna, a Mississippi riverboat-like vessel with 700 slots and 100 table games.

  • Casino Buenos Aires (on board the Estrella de la Fortuna)
  • Elvira Rawson de Dellpiane
  • Phone: +54 11 4363 3100

Argentinian Horse Racing

The Buenos Aires Jockey Club was established back in 1892, and racecourses like the Hipodromo Argentino de Palermo first opened in 1876.

 Despite only three currently active thoroughbred courses, Argentines are still horse racing fans.

The San Isidro course hosts one of 12 stops on the Gran Premio Latinoamericano circuit.

El Latino is South America’s most valuable race with a $500,000 purse. It’s also the home of the Argentine Jockey Club’s Carrera de las Estrellas, or Race of the Stars, which is similar to the Breeders Cup.

Horse racing is year-round in Argentina under the auspices of the Jockey Club.

  • Jockey Club
  • Alvear 1345, C1014AAA Buenos Aires
  • Phone: 054 11 4815 0561
  • Website: jockeyclub.com.ar/

Here are details of the three racetracks.

Track Address Phone
Hipodromo de La Plata 116, Av. 44 1900, B1908FMN La Plata, Provincia de Buenos Aires +54 221 483-5015
Hipodromo de San Isidro Av. Bernabé Márquez 700, B1642 Buenos Aires, Provincia de Buenos Aires +54 11 4743-4011
Hipodromo de Palermo Av. Del Libertador 4101, C1426 CABA +54 11 4778-2800

Like many countries where horse racing is popular, Argentina has a triple crown series. The three races making up the series are as follows.

  • Grand Premio Polla de Potrillos – Hipodromo Argentino de Palermo (1 mile on dirt)
  • Grand Premio Jockey Club – Hipdromo de San Isidro (1 ¼ mile on turf)
  • Grand Premio Nacional (Argentine Derby) – Hipodromo Argentino de Palermo (1 9/16 mile on dirt)

Wagering on horse racing is prevalent at the betting shops that have been in Argentina since the 1990, and online betting is also an option.

While offshore operators have traditionally handled online action, the situation is changing. Many of the provinces have already launched official programs that will keep the billions in annual wagering in-country.

The three horse racing tracks in Argentina

Lotteries in Argentina

February 2, 2018, was a sad day for some Argentines, as it closed the chapter on the Argentina National Lottery that had been a mainstay since 1893.

In addition to the number draws, the National Lottery maintained racetrack concessions from 1944 to 1980.

The historical significance is gone, but Argentines still have lottery action through provincial-run programs.

One of the most recent launches was in Santa Cruz in June of 2020. The new Lotería de Santa Cruz provides Quiniela santacruceña. The game will benefit health and social action projects in the local communities.

This particular lottery program stands out as it’s fully automated. Instead of a manual drawing-room, it’s computerized.

Provincial lotteries were already inching their way to the $1 billion (US) annual mark ($1.6 billion with the National Lottery) a few years ago. So, the addition of new programs, like Lotería de Santa Cruz, will boost that figure significantly, providing more benefit to the provinces.

Other Forms of Gambling in Argentina

other gambling in Argentina

The names will change, and the venues may look different, but bingo, poker, casinos, and betting shops are part of the Argentine landscape.

While each province can allow or reject gambling opportunities, refusing them is a rare occurrence.

Even with online sports betting up in the air as far as provincial regulation in some places, residents still have access to real money gambling sites from offshore providers.

Bingo

Argentina currently has 46 land-based bingo parlors that have received the official stamp of approval from local governments.

Online bingo for real money is also accessible, even though Argentina online gambling laws don’t make specific provisions.

Poker

Poker was one of the first games prompting the Argentine government to stand up and take notice.

Starting in 2002, it began licensing poker operations, even though the provinces still have their say.

Sports Betting

You could say that compared to other forms of gambling in Argentina, sports betting resides in the gray area more than anything else. When betting shops started emerging in the 1990s, they weren’t on the officially approved list, but they weren’t turned away either.

It’s been a similar situation with the online sports betting industry as well. However, that’s all changing with the new online gambling licenses.

Here are some of the most popular sports events to bet on in Argentina.

  • FIFA World Cup
  • Argentina Open
  • The Grand National
  • Argentine Open Polo Tournament
  • Buenos Aires Marathon
  • National soccer team matches

New Online Gambling Licenses in the Capital

With the national lottery defunct, new programs are emerging like the City of Buenos Aires’ LOTBA (Loteria de la Ciudad). It’s regulating gambling in the city, including online gambling licenses covering sports betting, as well as casino games and online lottery sales.

LOTBA requirements include a $30,000 (US) license processing and a fixed annual fee of $100,00. Applicants need at least $2 million in the bank and must have two or more years in the industry with a clean track record.

One of the first licenses could go to Casino de Puerto Madero. Other contenders include Paddy Power Betfair, The Stars Group, Intralot with Bin Baires, Argen Bingo and William Hill, and Bet365 with Pasteko.

There won’t be a licensee limit imposed. Once again, Argentina has its anything goes philosophy with gambling.

The Future of Gambling in Argentina

Don’t expect gambling in Argentina to be wrapped in a neat little package with a bow. It’s a loosely constructed situation without a governing body and local legislation that isn’t tightly regulated.

While the new online licenses throughout the country will positively affect the local economies, punters will not push offshore operators aside entirely.

However, as Argentina is taking steps to provide a much more structured online gambling program, it could clamp down on offshore operators.

The UK, for example, allows out of area providers to obtain UK licensing. That way, the gambling commission functions as a regulatory agency, and the country benefits from taxes and licensing fees.

Recap of Gambling Laws in Argentina

There’s not much that you could think of that you can’t find in Argentina gambling-wise. Land-based casinos, betting shops, horse racetracks, and lottery sales are located across the country.

Online gambling laws in Argentina are also much more liberal than what you’ll find in many other locations. Although most betting sites haven’t traditionally been licensed or monitored, they’ve been allowed to do business with Argentines.

However, the situation is slowly evolving. Argentina is changing its stance regarding allowing online gambling pursuits. The governments have decided to benefit from it, rather than standing by and watching as millions, and even billions of pesos, leave the country.

Argentina Gambling Laws FAQ

What is the legal gambling age in Argentina?
ATo participate in any form of betting (casino, sports, bingo, lottery, etc.), Argentines need to be at least 18.
Is online gambling legal in Argentina?
AYes. In most parts of Argentina, online betting is allowed. While the city of Buenos Aires is the current exception, the situation is changing in 2021 with new online gambling legislation.
Can you bet on horse racing in Argentina?
AYes. Three racetracks accept on-course bets. Additionally, Argentina has betting shops and online betting site availability.
What happened to the National Lottery in Argentina?
AArgentina’s National Lottery, which has been around since 1893, was shut down in 2018. Players can still buy lottery tickets in Argentina, though, through provincial lotteries.
Do Argentina’s casinos have Vegas-style gaming?
AYes. You’ll find a plethora of betting opportunities. While games vary depending on the venue, Argentine casinos have table games, poker, slots, and other gambling machines.